China’s Illegal Fishing Boats Are Linked To Pollution And Trash At Famous Islands

( )- The Latin American outlet Infobae reported last Monday that the majority of man-caused ocean waste near or in the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve has been caused by Chinese boats illegally fishing in the area.

Last week, the Ecuadoran government released the results of a study that found most of the garbage around the Galapagos Islands, located off Ecuador’s Pacific coast, “comes from Asian vessels that fish in international waters.”

Environment Minister Gustavo Manrique said the study found sufficient evidence “to suspect that this waste comes from Chinese boats” fishing for giant squid.

According to Manrique, the Chinese fish for squid in international waters off the Ecuadoran coast every year. And while they may remain in international waters, when the boats are near the Galapagos Exclusive Economic Zone, they are “prohibited from throwing any type of plastic into the sea.”

And yet bottles, bags, and oil cans with Chinese lettering are “piling up on the shores of the Archipelago’s beaches.”

The Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve was established by Ecuador in 1998. It protects about 50,000 square miles of the Pacific approximately 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.

The Galapagos Archipelago, widely known for its unique biodiversity, was the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

In January, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso expanded the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve to include another 23,166 square miles likely as a way to combat China’s illegal fishing in the region.

For years, Chinese vessels have been illegally fishing around the Galapagos Islands Marine Preserve, despite the area’s internationally recognized status as a no-fishing zone.

This illegal activity not only poses a threat to the archipelago’s biodiversity, but it also is a violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty as it retains the sole right to natural resource exploration in the waters directly off its coast.

Five years ago, Ecuador’s Navy seized a Chinese vessel illegally fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve. On board, they discovered nearly 7,000 endangered sharks. Twenty of the crew were subsequently arrested.